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By: Dr. Dave Samuel

By now you’ve read or heard about Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in White-Tailed Deer (EHD)
this year. The outbreaks were regional, but in some areas they were bad. Bad enough that some states curtailed the number of deer permits sold and/or gave hunters their money back for licenses sold.. For example, South Dakota did both of these things in areas along the West River.

Each of the past three years I’ve driven to Nebraska to bowhunt. Given my health situation, I have to hunt with a guide and I’ve found a good one in Shawn Reiff in Beatrice. But this year was a bust as EHD had hammered parts of Shawn’s area. I hunted hard, but saw very little, and EHD was the reason. And it was interesting, because one of Shawn’s farms was fine, but twenty miles away another of his farms was hit by EHD.

I just saw a report where they estimate a minimum of 6,000 deer died from EHD in Nebraska. Those are just the ones found and reported to the DNR. There had to be many more out there that either weren’t found or were found but not reported. I met one farmer who had lost two calves to EHD. EHD has to be pretty bad to kill cattle.

The drought was probably what led to the various EHD outbreaks all over the Midwest. Apparently the midge, the biting insect, that carries the disease to deer, flourishes in wet mud. So, when there is a drought, shallow lakes, ponds, and streams recede, leaving mud flats where the midges reproduce. That, plus the fact that a drought would bring lots of deer to such areas to drink, thus enhancing their chances of getting the disease.

Note, there are little data to support this hypothesis, but it just makes sense. And we know that there seems to be more outbreaks of EHD in summers of bad drought. In the Midwest this past summer they had what most folks called the worst drought in history. I know the farmer in Nebraska whose land I hunted said it was the driest summer he’d seen in 40 years. The conclusion of all this is that EHD kills some deer, but the deer will come back. Some will be immune and pass that immunity on, but within a few years, deer numbers will be what they were before the outbreak.

As I write this column (a few days late because of hunting season) I just took a break and turned on the television. Mistake, because the story on the news is about the crazy that killed those innocent kids in school in Connecticut. Suddenly, EHD doesn’t seem so bad. Maybe I’m reacting to this so strongly because of the fact that I have this wonderful six-year-old granddaughter in first grade, whom I love more than anything else in this world. So innocent, yet this crazy just killed around 20 kids who I’m sure would remind me of Reese Elizabeth.

Of course this will bring another round of calls to ban guns from the hands of citizens. No matter that in countries that have very strict gun laws, these things still happen all the time. No matter that 1 million Floridians carry guns for protection and nothing happens with those carriers.

Is the correlation of guns and crime valid? If it is, then with murder rates down in this country is that because private gun carriers are way up? How about Japan, where gun ownership is very restricted. We tend to hear about suicides correlated with guns, yet the suicide rate in Japan is double what we see in this country? Guns don’t cause suicides even if Bob Costas says it does. Guns don’t make pro football players shoot their girlfriend, then commit suicide, even if Bob Costas says they do. Depressed and unstable people cause suicides. Every time we have one of these mass killings such as Columbine, Virginia Tech, a movie theater in Colorado, a mall in Oregon and now Sandy Hook school in Connecticut we find that the shooter(s) were not normal. People around them knew they were a bit off. No matter, the media will go crazy now to eliminate guns.

All this divisiveness in our country doesn’t help either. We’ll go running around looking for answers, and sure enough, just as dippee do Bob Costas did in his rant on guns after a pro football player shot his girlfriend, then himself, we’ll blame guns. Our streets are filled with people who need help, and we’ll blame guns. The media and all the urbanites who go off on guns when these tragedies happen have no knowledge of guns, and the fact that once banned or reduced, these tragedies, and gun use in crime, and gun use in suicides, won’t change much. There are examples from countries that did just what the media is now proposing to do.

But this time, it will be much harder to prevent. This time legal gun owners and those who use guns for recreation will lose something. The liberals will think it is wonderful, but the depressed and disturbed people will still be out there doing crazy things to innocent people.

The world is changing. We’d probably be better off banning social media than banning guns, but the public doesn’t even think about that. We’ve allowed a society to ban civility, to ban religion from our everyday lives. I’m not saying that this latest shooting took place because we’ve limited religion in public places. But I am saying that those changes have created a society that isn’t as moral, and maybe, just maybe, that changes all of us. Sad day.